An oft-recommended way to make wedding planning a little easier is to include your friends and family in the process. There’s no better time to learn to delegate than when you’ve got 200 invitations to assemble, stuff, and stamp! And asking your friends to participate in your wedding day in some way, from serving as bridesmaids to doing a reading at the ceremony, is a sweet way to honor your friendship—so why not turn to a friend who is a pro or has serious talent to serve as a vendor on your big day too? Well, the line needs to be drawn somewhere, so we asked top wedding planners to spill on why hiring “friend-ors” is not the way to go on your big day.
Your friend will be at your wedding as a guest, so why not ask him or her to pitch in on your wedding day too? It turns out that’s a murky gray area you don’t want to get into. “Many brides don’t consider the amount of on-site and day-of responsibility wedding vendors have,” says Lindsay Sims of TOAST Events. “Utilizing a friend for these services often means your friend will miss major parts of the day, like your entire ceremony or the first dance. Then, when the wedding is over, there are hours of cleaning up to be done, which may prohibit your friend from enjoying your wedding to the fullest.” So if your friend is a true event professional (such as a florist) hire her only if she's got a great team of employees and partners in place; that way, she can help you before your big day and then let her team execute so she can be just a guest. Or, have her help with one of the pre-wedding events, such as the rehearsal dinner, where much less effort can be spent. Maybe just don't ask your chef friend to cater!
Hiring friends as vendors might seem cost-effective (hello, friends and family discount!), but it’s key to flesh out all of the angles of their involvement before booking them for the night. “I had a recent couple, DJs themselves, who really wanted their best friends (members of the wedding party) to be the late-night DJs for the after-party,” says Suzanne Reinhard, founder of Suzanne Reinhard Events. “I walked them through the timeline for the day, pointing out when we’d have to sound-check for the evening. Of course, it was right when we’d scheduled wedding-party pictures, which means a groomsman would have been missing. They realized how much more work it would be for their friends than they’d intended, so we ended up hiring a professional so their friend could be in the wedding party and enjoy the reception!”
And if your friend isn’t a pro at all? It’s best to say “Thanks, but no thanks” instead of risking your reception. Natalie Pinney, cofounder of Whim Events, knows firsthand. “One of our couples hired an amazing band for their reception, but it hadn't done many weddings—and therefore doesn’t emcee and needed the client to manage the iPod during the band’s breaks,” Pinney remembers. “I recommended hiring a professional DJ to be on site during the breaks and manage the flow of the evening as emcee, but they insisted that a friend of theirs would be great at the job. On the day of the wedding, we asked to meet with their friend to review the timeline—and he had no idea he was supposed to be serving as emcee!” Thankfully Pinney and her team had time to help him create a script and review the evening, but they wound up coaching him through every transition. “It was fine, but the flow wasn’t smooth and he was nervous the entire evening. It’s worth every penny to leave your evening in the hands of a professional who knows how to run the show.”
Moral of the story: Don't risk friendships; hire a pro.